Innovation automates patient access to mental health talking therapies and provides immediate support
Dorset and Southampton are set to become the first areas in the country to benefit from a mental health therapy chatbot provided by the NHS.
Wysa will be integrated into Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust services from next month, giving patients automatic access to the right Steps2Wellbeing mental health service, and effectively becoming a ‘digital front door’ to both digital and therapist support.
While on the waiting list for an NHS therapist, Wysa will also give instant 24/7 access to interactive, AI-guided mental health support so patients can immediately start to manage their symptoms, preventing their mental health from deteriorating further.
Wysa will now become the route for the delivery of NHS therapist care, giving continuity in care and encouraging higher patient engagement during therapy.
Wysa will create a digital front door that will make it easier for patients in Dorset and Southampton to access the vital mental health support they need, when they need it
In addition, patient access to Wysa’s chatbot and self-help tools will remain in place for a year after discharge to prevent relapse.
Upon GP referral or self referral through Dorset Healthcare’s Steps2Wellbeing website, Wysa will take people through a new e-triage experience, an interactive version of the indepth questionnaires that must be completed in order to access NHS talking therapies.
Wysa will provide instant support through an AI chatbot that guides patients through interactive self-care exercises.
And its NHS-approved self-care library offers a wealth of evidence-based intervention exercises for stress, grief, insomnia, coping with pain, anger, self-esteem, and more.
Steps2Wellbeing will then contact patients through Wysa to arrange appointments and prescribe homework exercises from Wysa’s library, as well as to track patient progress.
And, after discharge, patients will continue to have full access to Wysa’s chatbot and self-help library for ongoing support and to prevent the return of symptoms of mental health deterioration.
Throughout the patient experience, Wysa will regularly check progress through ongoing triage questions, suggest interactive self-help exercises, manage clinical risk, and highlight if the patient needs more-immediate or emergency attention.
Joel Hooper, IAPT business manager at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Chatbots are very popular these days and offering that level of interactive digital support is appealing to us.
“We want to tap into people's personal preferences for communicating to make self referrals easier.
We hope that by making self help more interactive we can prevent patients from deteriorating while they wait, perhaps even improving their symptoms
“We hope that by making self help more interactive we can prevent patients from deteriorating while they wait, perhaps even improving their symptoms.
“Wysa will help patients learn the basic skills needed for effective therapy, so they can then build on that foundation in their therapy sessions.
“It’s a better way of ensuring patients are continually engaging with their therapy and taking ownership of their recovery.”
Wysa managing director, Ross O’Brien, adds: “Wysa will create a digital front door that will make it easier for patients in Dorset and Southampton to access the vital mental health support they need, when they need it.
“What we’re trying to do is bridge the gap between patients asking to access care and receiving treatment.
“So, whether someone needs help to find wellbeing resources, immediate and ongoing support and information, or on-demand exercises to help maintain their mental health, Wysa will be there every step of the way.”